Last night, the General and I had a little Thursday night date night. We've both been a little (lot) tense about the adoption and needed something toLast night, the General and I had a little Thursday night date night. We've both been a little (lot) tense about the adoption and needed something to do together that we could relax and unwind. We had both decided to sort of skip Valentine's Day this year--no need to purchase overpriced flowers and chocolates when we have so many other things to do with our money. But at the same time, we wanted to celebrate somehow.
I've spent the last 8 days of my driving life reading Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road. And of course, Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe for her portrayal of April Wheeler in this film. And although she didn't get an Oscar nod for it, many people thought she should. Well, as I was reading the book, a single thought kept coming to me: how the hell did they turn this into a movie?
So I finished reading it Wednesday (and, coincidentally, started on The Reader by Bernard Schlink, whose main character Kate Winslet did win an Oscar nod for protraying and she better win, darn it!) and decided I just had to see the movie. Now of course, I'm a wee bit behind the eight ball on this one--the movie's been out quite a while. So when I looked at the movie listings, I had exactly one time to choose from in Fredericksburg for Wednesday and Thursday nights before it left the theater: 9pm.
Well, this would have been OK for me, but it's been a long time since we've been to the movies and the General was hot on going with me and so we decided to turn it into a Valentine's Day date. We looked at the listings in Woodbridge and fortunately at Potomac Mills last night, it was showing at 7pm. We decided to kick it off with dinenr at the Silver Diner and then went to the 7pm show--getting home before 10 which allowed me to still do my workout :-)
So, a brief synopsis for anyone who doesn't know what the book is about. The story centers around Frank and April Wheeler (played in the film by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), a young couple who move to the Connecticut suburbs after meeting in post WWII New York, falling hastily in love, and finding themselves expecting a baby. Frank takes a job at the same company where his father worked, while April busies herself as a housewife. Some years after, with two children, the Wheelers come to see their lives as a trap they've fallen into, and start to wonder if there is any kind of meaning in it, or if they can escape before it's too late.
I'm glad I read the book first, but I'm equally glad I saw the movie. The book spends the majority of its life plunged deep inside Frank's head, examining his thoughts and feelings about everything and everyone, and his motives are crystal clear. April's thoughts are clear, but only as an extension of Frank's own. There is very little actual 'action' to the book--Frank goes to work, April visits with the neighbors, Frank and April go dancing with their friends--the majority of it is truly their disappointment in their lives.
I don't know why, but in reading the book, I felt completely disconnected from the Wheelers. I didn't find them sympathetic characters, I didn't love them or hate them, I just felt total apathy. As they did certain things in the book, I was kind of like, "What the hell!?" but not in a way that made me seriously incensed by the fact that they'd done anything--just that in the overall scheme of things, nothing seemed like it was done because either of them thought that it would improve their lives.
This was the beauty of seeing the film. I was able to relate more to the characters and come to have feelings for them. I do quibble with the choice of Kathy Bates as the neighbor, Mrs. Givings, and frankly whenever I look at Leonardo DiCaprio, I see a 12 year old boy (hate him for that! He and Matthew Broderick never seem to age.), but the acting was excellent. I am pleased to note that Michael Shannon is up for an Oscar for his portrayal of John Givings, Mrs. Givings's crazy son. He was jaw-droppingly fantastic in that role. As was Dylan Baker as Frank's obnoxious co-worker, Jack Ordway.
I will say that the writers stayed as true as I think would be possible in bringing the book to the big screen. There were 2 scenes in particular that I had some issues with their changing, one of which was the very last 20 minutes, and the other which was when April and her neighbor Shep are in the car after a dance. The things that they left out were central to the very core of who April was, in my opinion and had they left in a couple of things, you would have gotten a much better sense of what was going on in her head.
That being said, seeing it acted out did make it all the better. There were times in the book when I would think, "They did what?!" But seeing it made a bit more sense. For instance, in the beginning of both the book and the film (and I'm not giving anything away here), Frank and April are driving home from a play in which April has acted and they start to argue. Frank pulls the car over on the side of the road and April jumps out of the car and the two of them proceed to scream at each other in a big dust up on the side of the road. And I remember the whole time thinking, "Seriously? People actually do this type of thing?" But actually, in the film, it doesn't really seem so weird.
The movie ended and the General said, "On the way home, you're going to have to explain a few things to me." And in fact, I did and to him that made the movie make a whole lot more sense. But because I had the novel's picture of what was going on in their heads, I was able to make sense of it for him and now he's interested in reading the book. So I think that will be a new project for him--I gave him the CD's to read.
If you haven't already seen the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book first. Despite my apathy towards the characters, I really, really enjoyed reading the book, and consequently, I really, really enjoyed the movie.
I'll have to see The Reader on DVD, as it doesn't appear to be playing around here any more. And I will probably miss the Oscars telecast as we'll be driving home from WV that day, but I'll be rooting for Kate all the way. She deserves it!
Despite my proclivities for England and those who call her home, I am not much on English history and the old kings and queens of England. I knew veryDespite my proclivities for England and those who call her home, I am not much on English history and the old kings and queens of England. I knew very little about Elizabeth I, although I did watch the movie starring Cate Blanchett (the first one) about 10 years ago. Sadly, it was a little too brutal for me, and I watched it once and never again.
However, I need audiobooks. And a friend recently loaned me this one so that I'd have a nice, long read while driving around for work. Driving is one of the few times I force myself to read something I'm not sure I'll enjoy, as I don't have anything else to do. So consequently, while I was not excited about the subject matter, I liked that there were 16 discs to fill my time.
Boy was I in for a surprise! This was a great book! The story was riveting. I would come home at night to read up on the Tudors and see how much of the book was factual and what happened to the various players on the fringes of Henry the Eighth's court.
It took me nearly 2 months of driving to finish it, but that was with the holidays breaking up much of my drive time. I will definitely read more by Alison Weir--several other titles have been recommended to me and if I can get them on audio again, so much the better!...more
I really loved this book until I got to the last chapter. The last chapter was a disappointment--I won't say it ruined the entire book, but I definiteI really loved this book until I got to the last chapter. The last chapter was a disappointment--I won't say it ruined the entire book, but I definitely would have prefered a better ending to this wonderful tale of a house's history....more
Gwaltney's YA book tells the story of Margaret Ann Motley, who's been waiting her whole life for her sister, Elizabeth to move out so she can have herGwaltney's YA book tells the story of Margaret Ann Motley, who's been waiting her whole life for her sister, Elizabeth to move out so she can have her own bedroom. Unfortunately, just as Elizabeth leaves for college, their aunt and cousin move in and steal Margaret Ann's room out from under her. Courtney, Margaret Ann's cousin, has arrived in Virginia with her mother from England, fleeing World War II and its many disastrous implications for them living in such dangerous times. The battle between the two young women as they fight for position of alpha female in the household and at school with friends is funny, poignant, and bittersweet. Finally, when the US enters the war, and Margaret Ann's brother and Elizabeth's new husband both enlist, Margaret Ann and Courtney come to some understanding about each other and the many feelings they have as citizens of the world.
I really enjoy WWII era books for some reason and this book was no exception. I also liked that the book took place n a farm in Virginia, and not too far away from Fredericksburg. Living in urban sprawl, I like to read back to the simpler times when the Virginia I know wasn't even dreamed of and the Virginia the characters knew didn't exist. ...more
it was a WONDERFUL book, even if I had to read the Oxford English Dictionary at the same time. Loosely based on a true story, YOW is the tale of a smait was a WONDERFUL book, even if I had to read the Oxford English Dictionary at the same time. Loosely based on a true story, YOW is the tale of a small village in England in which the plague breaks out. The town's minister convinces the majority of its residents to stay put in the village and not risk infecting and spreading the contagion to those outside the confines of the village. What follows is the town turning in on itself, madness and mayhem reigning. The story is told through the eyes of Anna, the minister's 19 year old servant girl, a widow whose two young sons are among the first felled by the plague. The writing is vivid, colorful, and full of words that I didn't know. Yes, I could figure many out by context, but what's the fun in that? So I created my own glossary--and there's a glossary for the book on line. If you decide to read it and want to have a copy of my glossary, let me know, and I'll send it to you. ...more
This book follows the story of young Livvy Dunne, who at 24 has been written off as a spinster while her two younger and prettier sisters marry militaThis book follows the story of young Livvy Dunne, who at 24 has been written off as a spinster while her two younger and prettier sisters marry military officers during WWII. When it is discoverd that Livvy has been, well, knocked up by a military officer who left to join the war, a family friend who is a minister arranges a marriage to a far off farmer, away from her family and friends, and far away from her dreams of pursuing a career in archeology. Lonely and not connecting with her new husband, she befriends two young Japanese-American girls who work on the farm as part of their jobs in the nearby internment camp. The girls involve Livvy in a scheme that could land her in a heap of trouble, and Livvy must come to terms with her life as it is and make peace with it. I loved this book. It was a real page turner. The basic criticism of the book is that the plot is improbable in terms of what Livvy and the Japanese girls do, and that it wraps up rather neatly and quickly at the end, both of which are true. But for me, that didn't detract one minute from the book. I enjoyed the story of a woman who takes on her circumstances by doing what is dictated by those around her, and how she must either run from those decisions screaming or make peace with how she finds her life. I felt a definite kinship and sympathy towards Livvy and truly enjoyed reading about her life and life during the time period. The writing was also quite fluid and easy to read. ...more
Young Mattie Gokey is a maid at the Adirondack Mountains' Glenmore Hotel and is thrust into the center of a mystery when one of the guests is found drYoung Mattie Gokey is a maid at the Adirondack Mountains' Glenmore Hotel and is thrust into the center of a mystery when one of the guests is found drowned in the lake. The deceased, Grace Brown, has given Mattie a bundle of letters to destroy, and Mattie has never gotten around to doing so. As she begins to read the letters, she learns the truth about Grace and her lover, Chester Gillette.
Mattie also struggles in her own life, her desire to leave the North Woods and become a student and a writer pulling her in one direction, while the needs of her own family pull her in the other. She is further pulled by her friend Weaver, a boy her age who wants to become a lawyer and is encouraging Mattie to follow him to New York City, and Royal Loomis, who wants to marry Mattie and buy a farm.
Having grown up in the Adirondacks, this really appealed to me. And while reading the book, I was excited to read a lot of towns (Old Forge, Croghan, Inlet, Port Leyden) that I knew from growing up. In her acknowledgements, the author even mentions Cranberry Lake, where our library was located when I was growing up. So I absolutely loved the book for that reason--it made me nostalgic for home. And while it probably was not the author's intention, a lot of the names she used in the story were the names of people who are still living in the Adirondacks. For instance, there is a family in the book called the Hubbards, and I want to school with the Hubbards. Other coincidental names such as that lent it an additional air of authenticity. Additionally, I was well aware of the Grace Brown murder, an actual case which was made famous by Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy. It's always been a case with which I had an interest, and probably which introduced me to the world of true crime, a somewhat morbid interest I have to this day.
But I also really loved Mattie. I identified with her, a girl trying to decide whether to do what is best for herself or her family. To follow her own passions, which no one around her save her best friend and her teacher, indulge in or understand, or to stay home where she is needed and forgo her adventures in New York City. The book was more than a backwoods story about a bunch of hicks who don't know their asses from their elbows. You felt for these people, from Mattie's Pa trying to raise a bunch of girls without their mother, to dirt poor Emmie, to Weaver and his mother, to the employees of the hotel. A great book, I really enjoyed it, and as Mattie loves to play a word game with Weaver in which she looks up a new word every day, I learned some new words to expand my vocabulary. And I loved that Mattie made up her own words as well. Limicolous or terricipation, anyone? ...more
Judy brought me the first Elm Creek Quilters novel and I was kind of disgusted with it in the beginning, but the story turned gripping and IDAMN HER.
Judy brought me the first Elm Creek Quilters novel and I was kind of disgusted with it in the beginning, but the story turned gripping and I couldn't help myself. I wound up liking it.
This has been the story with every single freakin' Elm Creek Quilts book I've read consequently, and number four was no different. I approached it with a "Here we go again" attitude, and yet couldn't help myself from reading it.
In this novel, Sylvia Compson is approached at a lecture by a woman who has an antique quilt which she claims has significance to Elm Creek Manor. She claims that the quilt was passed down through her family and legend has it that it served as a signal that Elm Creek Manor served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Sylvia is disturbed and goes home to root through her attic, wherein she stumbles upon her grandmother's sister's diaries and 3 more quilts. As Sylvia reads through the diary, she learns about a troubling period in her family's past and comes to question her very existence.
Ok, I must admit, this was my least favorite of the Elm Creek Quilt books so far. The best part of the book was the diary of Sylvia's relative. In this book, the dignified and revered Sylvia devolves into a needy, self absorbed idiot. The twist at the end, when it is revealed that Sylvia herself may in fact be 1/8th African-American, and wherein she calls the apparently one A-A person she knows, who responds with a tepid, "Welcome to my world" was just plain stupid. Sylvia meanwhile ignores and/or fights with her friends, ignores the campers, and ignores love interest Andrew. What's worse is that apparently at one point in the book, my favorite characters from the last book were at the camp and scarcely get a mention. This, to me, would have been a great time to provide a little series continuity, but instead, Chiaverini glosses over their attendance and focuses on Sylvia's despair over her family sellouts. UGH!!
Not her best. I already hate myself for wanting to read #5, and it better be better than #4. ...more
This is the best book I've read this year, and one of my top 5 favorite books ever.
The story centers around Joey Margolis, a quick talking, too-smart-This is the best book I've read this year, and one of my top 5 favorite books ever.
The story centers around Joey Margolis, a quick talking, too-smart-for-his-own-good kid in Brooklyn who idolizes one Charles Banks, a third baseman for the NY Giants. Through letters, report cards, interviews, newspaper clippings, and more, Joey and Charlie's relationship grows and develops and the book is at turns laugh-out-loud hilarious and move-you-to-tears poignant. Relationships develop amongst many "minor" characters as well, including Joey's principal and teacher, Joey's mother and aunt, Charlie's teammate Stuke and girlfriend Hazel, and even the Press Secretary of the White House and FDR.
I emailed the author after reading it and he got right back to me, which is always a good sign. I have given the book to several people as gifts and they have enjoyed it (my dad stole my copy!).
Covering an exciting and scary time for many Americans, the era after the Depression and of World War II, the book encompasses a time of hope, a time of sorrow, and a time of joy. Read it and be transported....more
Ruby and Rose are identical twin girls born conjoined at the head. Their birth mother flees from them after they are born, and they are taken in by thRuby and Rose are identical twin girls born conjoined at the head. Their birth mother flees from them after they are born, and they are taken in by the attending nurse, Lovey and her husband, Stash, a native Slovak. The girls grow up in a small Canadian border town, and as they learn that they are dying, they decide to write their autobiography. The story spans their growing up and their life together, as well as Lovey and Stash's lives together.
I really, really enjoyed this book, it was probably one of the top 10 I've read this year. My only minor quibble with the book was the sheer number of time the author wrote "we are conjoined". Every freakin' page. Judy and I would call each other and ask, "Hey, did you know these girls are conjoined?" It got to be a joke. Last night we were sitting in the car, and I said, "You know, I've been thinking a lot about it, and I've come to a serious conclusion after a lot of thought." Judy kind of tensed up, since a lot's been going on lately, and she said, "What?! What's up?" and I said, "I think they were conjoined." and we both got the giggles.
The other quibble I had with it was the girls' trip to Slovakia, which in my opinion was set up to be a huge, disastrous experience, and in fact, after I read it, I thought, "uh huh, and?" But there were other parts that made up for it. Great book, I really liked it. ...more